A superlative goal keepeing by Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and some resolute defending helped India to snatch a point from mighty Qatar, the Asian champions Qatar in the FIFA World Cup 2022 and Asian Cup 2023 joint qualifiers at the Al Sadd Stadium on Tuesday night.
With the goalless draw, coach Igor Stimac side opened their points tally having lost 2-1 to Oman, while Qatar took their points tally to four points, having picked up full points in their emphatic 6-0 win over Afghanistan five days back.
Bangladesh is the other team in the group.
The Asian champions dominant with the ball throughout the match but could not penetrate the Indian defiance. Qatar had 27 shots in comparison to just two from India but Sandhu led from behind and made massive saves to help India to maintain a clean slate till the end.
Sandhu’s saves, who had tears in his eyes at the end of the match helped India walk away with a point. Last night difference between both the team the Goalkeeper.
India’s cause was helped by the crossbar and a couple of missed headers by the Qataris saw that no goal was scored in the 90 minute play.
In the end as chants of India India reverberated in the stadium, coach Stimac was running around celebrating with his players and then the Indian players did the Icelandic clap celebration with the fans and it was easily one of India’s best results away from home.
India took the field without their experienced striker Sunil Chhetri, who was down with fever, as India made four changes in the starting line-up from the last match against Oman.
Qatar were utterly dominant in this first half. They have had most of the ball and all the big chances while India have not even had a shot at the Qatari goal. But India will be happy with the fact that they have been able to hold Qatar goalless so far and Gurpreet Singh Sandhu has a big role to play in this. He has made some crucial saves to keep India in the game.
However, the Indian defence has kept its shape well and for the most part denied Qatar any chance to take a shot from close. Qatar mostly had to go for strikes from far off. Towards the end, Qatar were incisive and created a number of chances but were unable to bury them.